Sources of B-12 and Deficiency

Sources of B-12 and Deficiency

Many people don’t know this, but Vitamin B-12 comes from bacteria, not from land animals. The B-12 that is found in animals came from bacteria rather than them producing it themselves. Vitamin B-12, also known as cobalamin, is a compound produced by bacteria. It is important for the normal formation of red blood cells and for the health of the nerve tissues. A B-12 deficiency can lead to anemia and permanent nerve and brain damage.

The bacteria, Lactobacillus reuteri, which is a very healthy bacteria to have in your intestines, is one that produces cobalamin. Others are Lactobacillus acidolphilus and Lactobacillus rossiae. The cobalamin that is produced by these bacteria in the small intestines can be absorbed by the lower part of the small intestines.

Statistics have shown that 50% of Americans are deficient in B-12 and 60% of vegans are deficient in B-12. A lot of people say that if you are on a vegan diet you have to take a B-12 supplement to be healthy. The truth is that if you are American, you need to take B-12. But the best place to get B-12 from is bacteria because they are the producers of it. If we would eat more raw fruits and vegetables and chew our food more thoroughly, mixing it well with saliva, we would see less and less B-12 deficiency. This is because we were created to have a symbiotic relationship with these bacteria.

Nutritional yeast is actually not a natural source of B-12. There are a lot of people who are confused about this fact. Some nutritional yeast is fortified, but with an inferior form of the vitamin (cyanocobalamin). A better B-12 supplement is a methylcobalamin variety such as Methyl B-12.

It is important to note that B-12 needs to be chewed and mixed well with saliva to be absorbed when it passes through the digestive system. Saliva r-proteins stick to and protect cobalamin compounds from degradation. We do get some B-12 from our saliva because we naturally have small amounts of bacteria present in the mouth. This is, however, a very small amount of B-12 potential. The reason that diary and meat products are high in B-12 is because they have a significant inherent bacterial contamination.

A better source of bacteria for human consumption is found growing on raw fruits and vegetables. The best sources of bacteria are broccoli, cabbage, kale, cauliflower, and similar produce. This is because these vegetables have crevices for the healthy bacteria to live. It is important to avoid over-washing your fresh fruits and vegetables because this can wash away most of these healthy bacteria.

One of the best reasons to get your B-12 from plant-based sources is that these bacteria are probiotic and non-pathogenic to humans. Bacteria from animal sources feeds on dead animal tissue and most of them are pathogenic. It is interesting to note that healthy Indian people have a more extensive amount of bacteria in their small intestine than people in the West and it is uncommon for them to have a B-12 deficiency. On the other hand, people who have Indian heritage living in the US and England have a relatively high frequency of B-12 deficiency.

Iranian villagers with very little animal product intake had normal B-12. The speculated reason for this is that their diets were very low in protein, which would allow for B-12 producing bacteria reach the ileum part of the small intestines where the B-12 could be absorbed.

It is possible that some vegans can defend against overt B-12 deficiency, and even mild B-12 deficiency, with B-12 production by bacteria in the small intestine. This, however, is an unusual condition, especially in Western countries, and should not be relied upon.

Written by Daniel Baldwin and Ron Meinhardt

Summary: Many people don’t know this but Vitamin B-12 comes from bacteria and not from land animals.

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